Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Jump Shot” — Jim P’s review
I didn’t see the byline before I started solving, but by the time I sorted out the first theme answer, I knew whose it was. And if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you recognized the theme type as well.
The theme consists of four phrases whose first or last few letters comprise a word that roughly means [Shot]. Each “shot” word is separated from the main phrase by a block which you have to “jump”over to complete the phrase, hence the title. In each case, the “shot” word employs a different meaning.
- 17a [Gift list, of a sort] / 19a BRIDAL REGIS / TRY. “Shot” = “attempt.”
- 27a / 30a [Conjectural statements] HYPO / THETICALS. “Shot” = “injection.”
- 44a [Question from the judge] / 47a HOW DO YOU P / LEAD? “Shot” = “ammunition.”
- 57a / 58a [Words to one facing two unpleasant choices] PIC / K YOUR POISON. “Shot” = “photo.” I love the base phrase here.
This works well. The title makes for a reasonable conceit and the usage of four different meanings for “shot” is elegant. The base phrases are all solidly in the language as well.
A lot of good fill here today. Opera buffs get LEONTYNE Price (I figured the clue [Price of opera recordings] was going for a name, but I still needed most of the crossings). Basketball fans get James NAISMITH (again, most of the crossings). On the easier side, there’s EXTRA LARGE, PERIODICAL, HEXAGON, CHEEKY, “ALL RISE,” and SODA POP which I think we saw only just last week.
- 38a [Chow line]. LEASH. Cute.
- 3d [The thing I’m holding up]. THIS. Such a bizarre clue at the time, but it makes sense afterward.
- 32d [Princess who rides a winged unicorn]. SHE-RA. I haven’t seen the new show, but my daughters attest to its quality.
- 50d [Reading facilities]. LOO. That’s Reading, as in the city in England. Nice clue.
Entertaining puzzle from start to finish. Four stars.
I can’t think of a more appropriate puzzle theme for the following video. Here’s the cast of Hamilton performing “My Shot” at the White House (for the previous administration, duh).
Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Damon Gulczynski has today’s NYT, and it’s a more straightforward theme than we’ve seen the last few Thursdays:
- 17A: Tome — FROM WHERE I STAND
- 30A: Often — DECIMAL
- 37A: Notable — POWERLESS
- 49A: Goon — PERSIST
- 64A: Request needed to understand four clues in the puzzle — GIVE ME SOME SPACE
Each clue needs a little more space – it isn’t “Tome”, it’s “To me” which gets you to FROM WHERE I STAND. Often becomes “of ten”, “Notable” becomes “not able”, and “Goon” turns into “go on”. This doesn’t feel like the most inventive of Thursday themes to me (and I feel like I’ve seen this idea before in some other venue), but the set of theme entries used for this particular iteration is nice.
- The non-theme across fill on the top half here feels a little all over the place – ABES, NONO, STET, ABA, EDT, ADA – it’s a lot of short fill and proper names. That said, I would totally watch IRISH FOPS open for DINGO CREEP
- The down fill is much better in this grid – INFIDEL CORRIDA ANOINTS in the upper left, PROPANE RADICAL YES LET’S in the lower right, and lots in between to entertain — BEEFCAKE! LIZ LEMON! If only the across fill felt in balance with this.
That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Second Person”–Jenni’s write-up
This puzzle is available straight (PDF or AcrossLite) and diagramless. I’m not much of a diagramless solver and Peter said it was a “severe challenge” so I stuck with the AcrossLite version. If you solved it as a diagramless, please share your experience in comments!
I figured out the theme as soon as I saw the grid and I still don’t understand the title.
The grid itself is part of the theme. We also have:
- 16a [It’s celebrated on April 15]: JACKIE ROBINSON DAY.
- 68a [Team in the news on April 15, 1947]: BROOKLYN DODGERS.
Jackie Robinson wore #42, which has been retired throughout baseball. The last player to wear it was Mariano Rivera, who was already an established star when they retired the number and who wore 42 in homage to Robinson. Jackie Robinson Day commemorates his debut on April 15, 1947, and on that day all the players wear 42. But Jackie was the first man to break the color barrier, right? So what’s up with the title?
A few other things:
- Love the other long answers in this puzzle: VALET DE CHAMBRE, GEOMETRICALLY, UNITED WE STAND, and HAZARDOUS WASTE.
- The grid forces a lot of three-letter words. I liked the puzzle so much that I won’t complain about the Roman numeral math at 20a. We also had ESE, ETS, TRE, AOL, and GNU, and I don’t care. (Peter used GNU and I don’t care….sing along)
- Back in the old NYT Forum days, someone objected to MISO being clued as [Kind of soup]. We get the whole thing at 58a.
- 48d [Breathing tube] was evidently not TRACHEA. It took me a long time to see SNORKEL. Duh.
- 78a [Clue room] is the LOUNGE – the game of Clue.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard the phrase VALET DE CHAMBRE, although I know some French and figured it out. I’ve also never heard of a Morepork OWL. They are found in New Zealand.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Universal Crossword, “Stuck in the Middle”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Yet again, we are dealing with a Universal need to use asterisks, rather than circles or shaded boxes. As well as the need to save space via use of the slightly inapt phrase starred answers rather than the more precise answers to starred clues. But that’s OK. The Universal Crossword is still so much better than it was you-know-when!
Let’s look at the reveal first:
- 60a [Like the countries in the starred answers, literally and figuratively] LANDLOCKED–OK, got the gimmick?
- 16A [*1998 Robin Williams film] PATCH ADAMS–This is a totally adequate clue, and the mere thought of Robin Williams makes me smile and laugh inside. But that Patch Adams, he’s something else! Something special! I’d have been tempted to clue this answer as [Modern practitioner of psychoneuroimmunology]. The landlocked country here, of course, is Chad.
- 23a [*OX, in love letters] A HUG AND A KISS–Inside of which Uganda may be seen to be trapped.
- 38a [*City outside Joshua Tree National Park] TWENTY-NINE PALMS–Nepal.
- 47a [*Heat map] THERMAL IMAGE–Mali wraps up this 10-12-15-12-10 theme. Which, as I might once have said, is a heap o’ letters. Never mind the known effects that a pair of 12’s has on any grid.There’s little left to remark upon, but I’ll make a list:
- 10d [Nickel back?] MONTICELLO–This was a toughie for me. I’m not accustomed to seeing this name vertical.
- 21d [Colorful, flowing garment: Var.] SARAPE–This is listed in Ginsberg 11 times. USA Today marked it as a variant all five times it used it–all during you-know-who’s tenure with that publication. The New York Times did not mark it as such in ’84, ’89 & ’94.
- 25d [Based on theoretical deduction] A PRIORI
- 29. [Conform] TOE THE LINE
Timothy Schenck’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
TOPHATS is the sole horizontal part of the theme, with four down answers beginning with hats. For a fairly basic theme type, this doesn’t have a lot of oomph. (CAP)NCRUNCH and (TAM)PABAY are clean, but the last two are one-word (BERET)TAS and randomly-in-the-infinitive-form (TOQUE)STION.
The rest of the grid is not exactly brimming with colourful phrases and answers: RESONANCE and ALLOWABLE are two of the longer non-theme answers, for example. We are provided with BELUGA and PANACHE. On the other hand, two endangered crossword-ese answers make an appearance: [Scandinavian rug], RYA, last in fashion ca. 1969; and [Ancient gathering place], STOA. Commit to memory if you haven’t til now.
Weirdest clue: [Emotional trauma consequence], SCAR. Physical trauma doesn’t leave scars?
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, “Rate Change”—Andy’s review
Today’s revealer is at 65d, KPH [Autobahn speed meas., or what letters are swapped in each theme answer]. Sure enough, each of the three theme answers takes a normal phrase and replaces a “K” with a “PH.” Like so:
- 20a, INSTANT PHARMA [Just-add-water pills?]. Instant karma.
- 40a, STROPHE OF GENIUS [Ode stanza rapped by Wu-Tang’s GZA?]. Stroke of genius. GZA is also known as “The Genius.”
- 55a, MORPH AND MINDY [Show that changes all of comic Kaling’s costars?]. “Mork and Mindy”.
Funny theme clues as always.
Some other notes:
- Loved the long down entries in this one:
- 3d, JUNIOR PROM with a great clue [Even that seniors typically don’t attend].
- 8d teaches us a fun fact about EMMA STONE [Highest-paid actress of 2017].
- 32d, UTILITY MAN [Baseball player who can play many positions].
- 36d, SORE SPOTS [Sensitive topics?] — works with or without the question mark, I think.
- 51a, [Candy vehicle of the ’70s] isn’t some kind of truck, but rather SCTV (John Candy).
- Always nice to see 44a, ESAI Morales clued in a different/recent way, as in [Morales of Netflix’s “Ozark”].
- Topical clue for 4d, GMAT [Exam where your rich parents might bribe to raise to the max score of 800: Abbr.].
- Very clever clue for 7d, BUNTS [Hits close to home?].
It was lovely seeing/meeting so many of you in Stamford this past weekend! I hope to see many of you at The Indie 500 in June, and I’ll see you all back here next week!